In honor of the full moon today, I’d like to put a spotlight on Yoga’s Sun Salutation’s lesser-known sibling, Moon Salutations. While traditional Sun Salutations are known as a heat-building, intense workout, Moon Salutations are much more soothing and helpful if you are feeling depleted or just need to quiet things down.
In the modern world we are constantly bombarded with all sorts of stimulants which inevitably lead to high stress levels, and this short practice is a great way to create balance in your life. While Moon Salutations (Chandra Namaskar) are certainly “newer” to yoga than Sun Salutes (Surya Namaskar,) the moon has long been considered a source of rejuvenation and peace. The opposite of the sun, the moon has a cooling effect on the body and can help replenish energy that is lost during stressful situations or even an intense workout. Yoga, and life, are ALL about balance.
Here is a breakdown of a Moon Salutation sequence that you can do tonight in honor of the full moon, and to slow down and cool off. You can also watch a video of the sequence here.
- Begin in a Salutation Seal (Anjali Mudra.) Stand with your feet hip-width apart, turn your palms up and join your pinkies together to let go and listen inward. Take a few deep, slow breaths here.
- Inhale, open your arms wide and exhale, placing your hands on your lower back, fingers pointing up. Bend back and inhale, then fold forward on an exhale, keeping your knees bent and the neck relaxed. Bring your chest to rest on your thighs, with your palms facing up. Do this move three times.
- On an exhale, step your left foot back into a High Lunge.
- Inhale and draw your right arm up overhead as you turn both feet clockwise. You are resting on the outside edge of your back foot, and the toes of your front foot are facing away from your body.
- Exhale and draw your right hand down the side of your body, so it is pointing at your back toes. Reach towards your back foot. Move between this and step (4) three times.
- Exhale and turn your whole body counter-clockwise, so that you are in a wide stance with your feet parallel.
- Inhale and bend your left knee, and extend your right leg, keeping your spine long. Exhale, then inhale and move to the other side. Flow back and forth at least two more times, envisioning you are like seaweed in the ocean, swaying back and forth in the tide.
- Turn toward your left leg and come back into High Lunge.
- Inhale, and step back into Plank Pose.
- Exhale, place your knees on the floor and walk your hands out in front of you, pressing your chest down to the floor.
- Lower all the way down on your belly and bring your hands by your sides, right under your shoulders. Lift your chest by pressing into the floor and look over your left shoulder, then your right.
- Push back into Downward Facing Dog and medal through your heels, alternating bent knees. relax your neck and jaw and make it feel good!
- Come into a full Downward-Dog, Inhale and point your right leg back and to the sky. Then exhale and lower it back down. Repeat on the right side, and then bring your right foot forward into High Lunge.
- Step your left foot to meet your right and bow over your legs with your arms hanging down, palms facing up.
- SLOWLY roll up, one vertebra at a time, with your head coming up last. Root down through your feet, and bend back, stretching out your chest.
- Return to the pose in which you started. Feet hip-width apart, palms up, and take some deep breaths before you repeat the sequence on the second side.
*This sequence was taken from the December 2011 issue of Yoga Journal and was created by Shiva Rea.